North Dakota AFl-CIO Legislature Watch - Week 10

 Sisters and Brothers,

Things slowed down this week. Many Labor bills that will affect us have already either been defeated or pushed through, and the legislature is now getting down to the basic fight over money and budget. The North Dakota budget was the big news at the Capital this week and is looking grimmer with each succeeding forecast. Our public employees are facing some serious threats as these updated numbers are used to navigate tough budget decisions. North Dakota United has some work to do out in the coming weeks.

The news was not all bad for teachers and public employees, however. The bright spots include SB 2186, the education innovation bill supported by NDU and literally across the board by those in education. It received a 13-0 Do Pass Recommendation out of the House Education Committee. In addition, HB 1389, which was Representative Rick Becker’s dangerous education savings account bill, was turned into a school choice study and then killed on the Senate floor Friday 14-32.

You can read more about NDU’s concerns here.
Next week, we will keep our eyes on any developments with PERS of which Representative Carlson is trying to drastically alter the governance structure.

On Monday HB 1405, relating to the defunct commission on the status of women, came before the Senate IBL committee. We supported this bill in its original form, which stressed finding ways to bring down the unequal pay between women and men in North Dakota.  It specifically stressed promoting non-traditional occupations for women like the Union trades and manufacturing, and as unions have always stood for transparent contracts and equal pay for equal work, this would have been a great way to get unions more involved and give them a much wider positive exposure to the general public.

1405 was amended to take out all the specific language and just demand that the commission actually report our every session. However, we think that we can work with this and still promote the benefits union membership to any fairness issues.

On Tuesday, HB 1139 came before the Senate IBL. This is the bill that limits joint employer liability and is a direct reaction to 2015’s NLRB’s joint employer ruling. This holds employers accountable when they control too much of work their subcontractor or franchisee’s employees. This bill states that the employee of a franchisee is never an employee of the franchisor, no matter how the parent company violates their rights. Under this law, McDonalds Corporation could never be held accountable for overtime and reimbursement violations committed by the timekeeping software they demand their franchisees use… like what happened in California recently.

Unfortunately, this passed committee with a unanimous do-pass recommendation, and then passed the senate with an unfortunate 45 to 1 vote.

On Wednesday, the House Finance and Taxation Committee heard HCR 3028. This is the resurrected version of HB 1248 that was the prosperity states compact. This is the crazy bill that allowed landowners to form Prosperity Zones and get out of most state laws.

Though that bill failed, this resolution would create a study to see if this ball of insanity would be a good idea to adopt here. Yeah… really! Fortunately, it was given a Do Not Pass recommendation so sense still prevails.

Among other bill, Monday brings up HCR 3033, the Socialist Casino resolution that would create 6 state owned casinos. As I said last week, I am certainly not against state owned enterprises as our state bank and mill are excellent organizations. I just think that if we are going to create more state owned institutions, they should be with products we can export like state-owned oil refineries and pipelines.

There are a few more that we will be keeping our eyes on, and we will get back to you next week on what is happening with them.

In solidarity.

Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
(701) 595-3334